Blasting out of Brooklyn, A Place To Bury Strangers have been near deafening fans with their super-noisy gothy rock since 2003. Latest release 'Onwards To The Wall' E.P. is a stepping stone between phases of writing for them with the five tracks chosen from countless possibilities, and audibly its an eclectic mix of post-punk melodies, echoing riffs and grinding basslines. This Spring they've brought it all to Europe (dates below).
We caught up with pedal impresario and guitar/vocals man Oliver Ackermann for a brilliantly in-depth discussion on slick vs scum, illegal downloads, purity in DIY and some great reasons to be cheerful. Hot dogs. Yum.
Talk us through the EP – sound, writing, lyrical content...
The EP was recorded as part of a lot of songs that were recorded as quickly as possible and as purely as possible. There was no direction, no expectations, and not that much time spent on them to create the songs. We had made about 30 or so that were very stream of consciousness and this represented what we thought were the 5 best songs that worked together. They sort of chose themselves.
The sound is derived from a combination of the last few records and the next building block of where we were with our recording techniques. It was the best we could do and what I had been striving for over the past 15 years or so of built up knowledge, trial and error. During the recording of our last record, 'Exploding Head', I really learned a lot of interesting theories of sound working with Andy Smith. We tried to make that record really polished and have a sound that was really clear and almost a little bit commercial. Not in a bad way, we had a lot less tracks we were working with and we were going for something very raw and slick at the same time. Now with this EP I think we abandoned the notion that we would try to make something slick because I don't know if we even accomplished that or if it is even truly in my heart to create something like that, so we are back to embracing scum only now with the knowledge of fine wine. The lyrics are pretty personal and date back to my youth up to where I am now with stories about past love, lust, loss and hate.
Your songs are quite deep at times, songs about longing, heartbreak and confusion... give us some stories that link to these themes...
I don't really like talking about these things as they are quite minor compared I'm sure to other peoples problems but hurt me all the same at some time in my life. I was also picked on very much as a young boy as well as being loved very much by very amazing parents and that has developed a strong compassion in my life for other people.
I once had a girlfriend who while I was away for about a week started then going out with my flatmate/best friend at the time and it was soul crushing. I didn't really talk for about 6 months.
Quite a sensitive individual under all that raucous growl then. Let's get back to the industry stuff then - After streaming your new album, talk to us about your feelings on digital downloads, piracy, fans leaking releases after getting them under the guise of being a reviewer etc...
I think it is cool for people to leak and give away records and listen to them under the guise of being a reviewer. I have no problem with this. I do not keep much touch with the world of timing with labels and strategies and money making schemes and all of that shit that doesn't mean actually anything in the world at all. It is important and I do appreciate when people are looking out for these things but people shouldn't stress about it or about much of anything if they can help it.
I create music and that is my goal to show people something that I feel is beautiful so how they get there if they are interested in it is up to them. Please share illegal music and anything else you can. We will all die whether you were concerned with money or not.
Some of the words used to describe your sound are:
Shattered, twisted, jet-engine, tinnitus-inducing, hammering, epic, lurid, blaring
Which 3 words would you use personally...?
sad, wicked-awesome, hip-hop
That's four! Cheat....
Also, you're big on the DIY scene, which has for obvious reasons been taking off in the UK on different levels of success... tell us what you like about the DIY scene, and not just the lack of 'big industry' involvement...
I think you have people working and creating something interesting just for the sake of it being interesting. There are also not as many expectations, it is pure. They aren't trying to be the most tastiest universal piece of bullshit. They are creating what they personally like and people are strange and interesting and different. It is less universal and more trying to create something that is personal for them. This I like.
Why are you more than just another reverb-loving shoegaze revivalist act...?
We are music fans and not specifically shoegaze fans. Maybe we are shoe gaze revivalists but if we are it isn't intentional. We are creating music and it seems new and fresh to us. We definitely create music that is based on music we have heard in the past, the sounds of machines, fucking, movies, birds, and anything in our lives, so pop music and pop in the sense of what is popular to the world we know and what we think is cool. Maybe it's not but who gives a fuck, it is what we like completely.
Tell us about the tiger picture on your blog?
That is Dion in Mexico and he is grabbing a baby tiger. He is a bad ass mother fucker. Swims with sharks, eats nails, and friends with tigers.
Like a lion-tamer type fella? Fab... We also heard you sadly broke your drummer – very Spinal Tap... comments please?
I chose art over a friendship and am very sad about it.
Ahh, that's a shame. So in attempt to stop the sombre-ness setting in, let's throw some of the humorous Beardrock questions at you!
Reasons to be cheerful?
Hot dogs, curry paste, driving on parkways and parking on driveways, monkey bands, world war.
Who's beards are your favourite beards, and why...?
My dad's is my favourite because I love that dude. It conceals his Jay Leno appearance and makes him look like a happy biker.
What would you tell your fans if the world were about to end...?
Abso-bloody-lutely! And we'll be doing so at one of these dates – get involved, and bring yer earplugs...
May 8th - London, Cargo
May 9th - Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
May 10th - Manchester, Sound Control
May 11th - Glasgow, King Tuts
May 12th - Newcastle, Cluny
May 13th - Leeds, Cockpit
Posted: Mon 30 April 2012